On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., David Kessler
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Fly With Qatar Airways To Perth 3 Times a Week. Book Online Today! www.QatarAirways.com The stages have evolved since their introduction, and they have been very misunderstood over the past three decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives. The five stages - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or goes in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief's terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. Denial
Denial in grief has been misinterpreted over the years. When the stage of denial was first introduced in On Death and Dying, it focused on the person who was dying. In this book, On Grief and Grieving, the person who may be in denial is grieving the loss of a loved one. In a person who is dying, denial may look like disbelief. They may be going about life and actually denying that a terminal illness exists. For a person who has lost a loved one, however, the denial is more symbolic than literal. This does not mean that you literally don't know your loved one has died. It means you come home and you can't believe that your wife isn't going to walk in the door at any minute or that your husband isn't just away on a business trip. You simply can't fathom that he will never walk through that door again. When we are in denial, we may respond at first by being paralyzed with shock or blanketed with numbness. The denial is still not denial of the actual death, even though someone may be saying, "I can't believe he's dead." The person is actually saying that, at first, because it is too much for his or her psyche. Alicia was accustomed to Matthew's being away on business trips. His work required him to travel the world, and Alicia had accompanied him on several trips that took him to places she wanted to see. She also witnessed the jet lag, hectic schedule, time changes, and delayed flights. On his current trip, Alicia was surprised that he'd been scheduled to arrive in Delhi and he hadn't phoned her yet. After two days, he called and apologized, explaining that there were phone problems in his hotel. She understood because this often happened when he traveled to third world countries. The next call came two days later in the middle of the night from one of her husband's coworkers. He gently told her that he had very bad news. Matthew had been killed in a car accident. He said there were very few details as yet but the home office would be contacting her. Alicia couldn't believe her ears. After she hung up the phone she immediately thought, "Did I just dream that? This must be a mistake." She called her sister, who arrived just as the sun was rising. They waited until eight o'clock and called the home office only to find out they didn't know of any problem, much less a tragedy like this. But they said they would look into it immediately. For the rest of the morning Alicia couldn't stop wondering if she had dreamed the phone call. Was there a mistake? The next call came at noon, confirming that indeed, last night's bad news was true. Denial
For the next few days Alicia made funeral arrangements, all the while saying, "This can't be true. I know when the body arrives it won't be him." The night before the...